Welcome to our online birthday party called celebrate12!
I just couldn’t grasp how this could be an effective “workout” and honestly, I thought it was rather pointless to sit on a mat and breathe. How boring! I did a few random yoga classes with friends from a groupon and a “free first class” here and there, but never liked it enough to go back.
A trusted friend recommended Evergreen Yoga Center during a time when it was critical for me to learn awareness of my mind and body. Some people are naturally intuitive about what they need emotionally and physically, while others need guidance on how to grow into an intuitive being. So, with a gentle nudge I compromised in trying yoga one more time. I suppose the hope was to either grow my awareness or to simply listen to the wise people around me and see what happens. In February 2014, I opened up my mat at Evergreen Yoga.
At first glance of the studio, I wondered why there were no mirrors and why do we use blankets? Are we going to take a nap? I really don’t have time for that! I was particularly interested in what could come of the ropes…..what kind of yoga is this?
There have been many twists and turns throughout my yoga journey, but I do distinctly remember a strange discomfort in Savasansa. During my first year, I often had had Leah place different weighted sandbags and bolsters over me when I was in Savasana which helped with my discomfort of being still. I felt more grounded, and was able to relax.
Leah showed me this picture of Mr. Iyengar which led me to more questions than answers.
I was grateful for being more grounded than ever before although still feeling pretty uncomfortable in my own body. This type of relaxation and grounding enabled me to slow me down and increase my awareness of the effects of my practice. This was the point in which I knew that yoga was an important part of my self-care.
Over time, I have come to understand that our “props” (what we use to support our poses at the yoga studio or the supports I choose to have in life) are there to help me meet myself where I am — without judgment. My props give me the confidence to get quiet enough to know when to move forward or when to simply just be.
Having no mirrors in the studio (which by the way, am a big fan of) helped minimize my distraction. I became less focused on the external, and learned to trust my inner being.
–Yoga is the ability to direct and focus mental activity.–
Yoga consists of keeping the mind quiet and wakeful so that one is totally present to what one is doing. Thoughts no longer rush forth of themselves in all directions, but are fully controlled and directed.
I’m thankful for my upcoming 5th year of yoga practice and all the ups and downs that have come with my learning. I continue to learn more about each pose that we practice. I discover new ways to use props and understand what things in life throw me off balance. I have a lot of energy in my yoga practice, but I now know that stillness tastes equally as satisfying.
I am currently on faculty at The University of Memphis and co-owner of Memphis Nutrition Group where I practice as a Certified Eating Disorder Dietitian. I have the privilege of helping people heal their relationship with food just as yoga has healed my relationship with bringing awareness to both my mind and body.
I regularly attend the Barefoot Bootcamp and the Saturday Level 2 class so I hope to see you around the studio. You might find me bringing friends to class, as I love to share yoga with others who are curious or craving for stillness just like I was.
So if you find yourself reading this blog post, or more importantly, attending classes, consider yourself in good hands at Evergreen Yoga Center.
I’ve gotten some questions about restorative yoga, and I thought you might have some too, so here goes….
What is Restorative Yoga?
Technically, by it’s very nature, all yoga should be restoring. As in, practicing yoga restores your connection to yourself and the divinity within. However, not all yoga has this effect on people. It all depends on how you practice.
Yoga is experiential. It’s a verb and a noun. Yoga is a practice (you do something), and it is also a state of being (you experience something). So you just have to try it.
Is it relaxing?
This question is hard to answer. There are some poses where bolsters/blankets and other props are placed to support you while you completely let go and relax.
Some “restorative” yoga practices have a carefully constructed sequence of poses that start with a certain amount of physical activity and intensity, requiring clear focus and concentration. Then, with each pose comes a little more mental quiet until the end where your mind is drawn completely inward as you rest in Savasana.
It’s important to know that restorative yoga is not “sleepy” or “massage-like” — at least the way I teach it.
Is restorative yoga appropriate for any level student?
As with any kind of specific type of practice, it depends. The sequence can be designed specifically for people with absolutely no experience, people who are dealing with a specific concern (like healing from illness or balancing hormones, etc.). Or it can be designed for those with more experience with poses like Headstand, Full Arm Balance, longer holdings of certain standing poses. A long Shoulderstand is probably not going to create a peaceful and quiet mind if you are a beginner. And a 5-minute holding of Headstand is definitely not appropriate if you haven’t already been practicing. If you are new to yoga or new to Iyengar Yoga, you should check with a teacher before you come to a restorative class. You want to set yourself up to have a good experience.
What if I come to a restorative class and there are poses I haven’t learned yet?
Don’t worry. Iyengar Yoga teachers are skilled at working with people of all levels of experience. We know how to meet you where you are, and guide you. We can give you alternatives for those poses. You need to let the teacher know if there is something new for you.
Still, if you are a newer student and unsure, ask the teacher. Especially if you are brand-new to yoga or brand-new to Iyengar Yoga.
Why does everyone talk about loving restorative yoga so much?
Of course, when we love something we want to let other people know about it!
There is a lot to love about practicing the poses in a way that leads from a scattered mind to a very quiet state. However, not everyone will like restorative yoga. (Not everyone loves almond milk, but some people want only cow’s milk). Yoga practice is experiential, so the only way is to try it).
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about restorative yoga!